Several years ago Dr Garrett Sanford headed for a sleep research project at UCLA. Sanford used a "Dream Monster" machine he had invented that enabled him to "read" the dreams of participants in the project as they slept. Near the end of the project, Sanford was abruptly summoned to Washington DC where he learned that the president of the United States had been trapped in a coma-like sleeping state for nearly 48 hours.
Nothing known to medical science had been able to awaken him. Somehow, something within the president's dream was preventing him from wakening and the only hope of saving him was "Project Sandman." Sanford's Dream Monitor had also been brought to Washington and linked to experimental apparatus, which, it was hoped, would enable a man to be projected physically into the Dream Dimension, a plane of existence on which what people see in dreams actually exists. Sanford agreed to be the one to travel into the Dream Dimension.
Within the Dream Dimension, Sanford gained superhuman powers, which he used to defeat a nightmare monster that held the president's dream-self captive. Sanford's victory enabled the President to wake up from his dream. However, there was no known means of bringing Sanford back from the Dream Dimension. The government sent the Dream Monitor into the Dream Dimension, and Sanford decided to use it to help humanity. He named himself the Sandman after the project and the 1940's costumed hero whose secret ID was Wesley Dodds.
Original Golden Age Sandman creator Jack Kirby also created the second version in The Sandman #1 - The Sandman in 1974. However, Kirby's version was intended to be the literal Sandman of folklore who acted as a superhero protecting children from nightmares.
It was later that writer Roy Thomas fleshed the character out, he was responsible for the name Garrett Sanford and his back story as a mortal man trapped in dreams and told of his death. Neil Gaiman's version of the Sandman was however, a return to Kirby's concept of the folklore iteration.
Major Story Arcs
Sanford established a base called the Dream Dome. He learned how to return to Earth by using a "Dream Ejector Tube" to send him through the "Dream Stream," the border between the Dream Dimension and Earth. However, the Sandman can only remain on Earth for an hour at a time. The Sandman is aided by two dream creatures, Brute and Glob, who can give people nightmares. (The master of nightmares in the Nightmare Wizard, who also lives in the Dream Dimension). The Nightmare Wizard can create very extreme nightmares that can scare children to death.
The Sandman's main concern is to prevent creatures of nightmare from entering the world of reality on Earth and carries a pouch of dream dust.
Dr. Sanford meets Wonder Woman and attempts to romance her even though she has accepted Steve Trevor's proposal of marriage. He also encounters Hippolyta Trevor, who would marry Sanford's successor and be the mother of Daniel Hall.
Justice League of America Annual
He would become an honorary member of the Justice League when they battled Doctor Destiny.
Infinity Inc., The Sandman & Death
Sanford would later go insane due to his time in the Dream Dimension and committed suicide. It was later revealed Dr. Sanford committed suicide years ago. Hector Hall, who had been killed and consumed by the Silver Scarab, was brought into the dream dimension by Brute and Glob (along with his wife Lyta) to replace Sanford and inhabited his body becoming the third Sandman.